What is a pivot point? If you opened a dictionary to the word “pivot,” it would say something like the following: “A pivot is a point upon which something turns.”
I am reminded of the great irrigation system that sustains so many farms today. The modern irrigation system is not the flood irrigation of my childhood. Today a great well is drilled and capped. The well becomes the pivot point, and the entire irrigation apparatus spins around it in a great circle. They are beautiful spectacles from the air.
The gospels contain various pivot points of their own. Advent and Christmas flood us with the promises of the coming Christ. Lent and Easter center us in the human drama of ministry, mortality, and the triumph of life over death and good over evil.
There is, however, another kind of pivot point where one is moving in one direction, then pivots, and moves off in another direction.
Not long ago we celebrated Transfiguration Sunday, which I believe to be the quintessential pivot point in the gospel story. Jesus takes three of his Disciples to the top of a mountain, something happens up there, and they return from the mountain and move with clarity and direction towards Jerusalem and the Cross. It is my belief that the UCC is at such a pivot point as well. For many years, we have thrived off the energy of our forbearers and their generosity. Time has passed, and the original ardor and passion have cooled. This is all as natural as rain and sun. But now we have come to a pivot point of our own and our country as well.
In one direction lies a future of selfishness and scarcity for those most in need. There is in this land today an idea contrary to the very heart of the social contract that binds us together as Americans. The idea is that “I am in this alone and me and mine are all that matters.” What should we do? As for myself personally and as your Conference Minister, I am for going to the mountain top to join in celebration with Jesus. I am for going to the mountain top to immerse myself in the power that is there for all Christian people, but I am not for staying on the mountaintop. It is Jesus himself who led his disciples back down into the valley of human struggle and despair in order to strive for the way of compassion and love. Here is the blueprint for our future. We are called to mountaintop and valley. We are the beloved of God, and we were created to experience the transcendent love of Jesus who then empowers us to carry this love back down off the mountain to those in need.
So, we find ourselves at a pivot point. Standing midpoint on the mountain, we can if we choose pitch our tents and just live out our lives in relative ease. Even at midpoint, the view’s pretty good. Or we can make the effort and climb on up to empowerment and enlightenment and then descend again into the struggle for truth and justice.
So, here we are midpoint on the mountain, and Jesus is saying, “Let’s climb on up. There’s work to be done so let’s get ready.” Here at the pivot point, there are choices to be made.
Are you in?